By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has threatened to drag the federal government to court if President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration insists on implementing its grazing routes and reserves policy.
The Governor who made this known Sunday at the Makurdi Airport on his return from Delta State said the Land Use Act was explicit on the issue of land ownership and management in the country stressing that any attempt to subvert his right as a Governor through the creation of nonexistent cattle routes and reserves would be challenged in court.
He called on lieutenants of the President to advise him properly on issues so that things would work better for the country, pointing out that insisting on cattle routes in the 21st century when states had resorted to enacting ranching laws was retrogressive.
Governor Ortom lamented that already the country was facing a serious food crisis due to insecurity and if nothing was done to curtail the trend, the situation would get worse in the coming years.
While insisting that his state would not concede its land to the federal government for the policy the Governor said, “the truth is that if the entire country has accepted ranching, then why is the President insisting on open grazing when there is no land for such.
“In the 50s when this policy was initiated what was the population of Nigeria, it was less than 40 million but today we are more than 200 million. The 923 square kilometres is not even enough to cater for the population. The reason Mr President is insisting, to some of us is strange.
“The President has aides, including the Attorney General of the Federation and other lawyers around him who should advise him. For God’s sake, it is laughable and it appears we do not know what we are doing.
“Benue people will certainly not accept open grazing. I have already briefed my lawyers to start the process next week if they insist on the grazing routes and grazing reserves policy. I will challenge it in court and I believe that I will get a favourable judgement.”